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March 27, 2008

Social Design Issue - Going Green (a little)

Since moving to Minneapolis it is hard to ignore the hard fact that humans are incredibly wasteful. One of the major differences between my home town of Mankato and Minneapolis is the use of public transportation and bicycles as a source of transportation.

In Mankato, you maybe saw the city bus once, if you were lucky. Public transportation, a side from the occasional taxi (usually only used for a sober ride home after a night of drinking at the bars downtown), is almost non-existent. There are designated bus stops all throughout town with benches, and some even have a shelter, however they are rarely used for waiting for the bus to arrive. Usually their purpose is to accommodate the people watchers or kids who can't drive or have a car of there own who are waiting at the swimming pool, the YMCA and other local hangouts for family or friends to pick them up.

In Minneapolis t is quite the opposite. There are actually two bus stops right outside our apartment building, one for the # 11 and the other for the #2. And there are always people standing outside waiting for the bus to come and take them to school, the train, work, the bus line they need to transfer on to, the grocery store, the Twins game, the theater, etc. The list goes on and on. The point is that buses are used as peoples major source of transportation in the Twin Cities. Aside from the noise from the traffic outside my bedroom and the sometimes overcrowded bus I have no complaints. It is incredibly convenient to have the bus stops right outside our door. We can watch out the window for when the bus is down the block instead of having to wait in the cold and rain on certain days. It is also nice to not have to drive everywhere I need to go and pay for the gas and find a parking spot and pay for parking and find a place to park that isn't 5 blocks away when I get home. For the sixty-some dollars a semester it costs to ride the bus I save a lot of money.

green bus.jpg


What nice is that amazing enough there are even buses that use the major highways to transport people to the suburbs. However it seems that for as many people that ride the bus there are so many more who drive their cars. Some of them car pool, but for most there is only one person in the car. Imagine the affect it would have it have of those people would decide to take the train or the bus to work and school or riding with someone else to save on gas, money and pollution. A lot of people make the excuse that it is an inconvenience to have to wait and spend so much more time commuting on the bus or when car pooling. I say however, why don't we all stop thinking about ourselves for enough time to realize that sometimes an inconvenience may suck for you but it can make life so much better for someone else who will actually appreciate it. And what's more is that if you help out someone and they help out someone else eventually, sooner or later it will help out you.

minnlightrail02.jpg


Sorry a little bit of a rant there, I will get back to the topic. Another huge difference from Mankato is that in Minneapolis there are some many people who have gone to using there bikes as a source of transportation rather than just a source of exercise. Actually its like killing two birds with one stone. What is nice is that there are even some dedicated lanes for bike users which makes it safer for them. However, as I rode my bike to school today and yesterday I noticed that even though there are designated lanes in some places there are none in others. In addition to that, the lanes are poorly maintain and lead to bikers still having to ride out in traffic to avoid massive potholes and drains and manholes.

8-biker.jpg

March 6, 2008

environment 1 to 2: different affects and their reasoning

When thinking of the designed environment I generally think about my surroundings and the routine I go through everyday. One of the best conclusions I can draw from the designed environment around me is how my like has changed since moving to Minneapolis. I am from a smaller city, but I lived in a township of the city so it was pretty much like a little town with no stores, only a golf course and a gas station, and a few other local businesses. Where I live in Minneapolis is also like a little community, Stevens Community if you are familiar with it. We have a gas station, lots of little local stores, there is a bakery down the road and banks etc.

I think a good example of a designed environment would be the U of Mn campus. For the most part I believe this campus is a pedestrian campus. Yes there are places to park and streets on campus to drive on but would a person really take that option. Maybe if you had to go from one bank to the other in less than fifteen minutes. None-the-less, if you want to make it anywhere on campus in a decent timely fashion walking and biking are going to be the best options.
bikesafety.jpg
http://www.msstate.edu/web/express/archive/2007-09-28/bikesafety.jpg

So where do you park? well you can't park for free, each lot has a specific rate they charge per hour. And how do you get to these parking ramps? you have to weave through the pedestrian traffic through campus until you get to a ramp and hope that it is not full by the time you get there.
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What do most of use students do if we live off campus? we ride the bus or ride a bike.